Video: Ukraine inspects Russian aid convoy — as armored vehicles cross the border

posted at 8:02 am on August 15, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

For the past week, Russia has insisted that its convoy of hundreds of trucks contained nothing but humanitarian aid for the people trapped by the civil war in Donetsk and Luhansk. At the same time, though, they had refused to engage the aid through the Red Cross, as Ukraine demanded as a condition of allowing the convoy to enter the country. Late yesterday, Russia relented and allowed the government of Ukraine to inspect the vehicles in advance on Russian territory near the border:

Russia let Ukrainian officials inspect an aid convoy on Friday and agreed to let the Red Cross distribute the aid around the rebel-held city of Luhansk, easing tensions and dispelling Ukrainian fears that the aid operation is a ruse to get military help to separatist rebels.

In violation of an earlier tentative agreement, Russia had sent the convoy of roughly 200 trucks to a border crossing under the control of pro-Russia separatists, raising the prospect that it could enter Ukraine without being inspected by Ukraine and the Red Cross. Ukraine vowed to use all means necessary to block the convoy in such a scenario, leading to fears of escalation in the conflict.

Adding to the tensions, a dozen Russian armored personnel carriers appeared early Friday near where the trucks were parked for the night, 28 kilometers (17 miles) from the border.

But the two sides reached agreement Friday morning, and 41 Ukrainian border guards and 18 customs officials began inspecting the Russian aid at the border crossing, defense officials in Kiev said in a statement. Sergei Astakhov, an assistant to the deputy head of Ukraine’s border guard service, said Red Cross representatives would observe the inspections.

Both sides also said that the aid deliveries themselves would be carried out exclusively by the Red Cross.

But was that just a sleight of hand, a trick of misdirection? Reporters on the ground confirmed that they saw Russian armored personnel carriers — not with the convoy but actually crossing the border, CNN reported this morning. Ukraine points out that they have been complaining about that for months, but this is the first independent confirmation:

U.S. and Ukrainian officials have repeatedly accused Russia of supplying weapons to the rebels and building up troops along the border.

A number of Russian armored personnel carriers were seen crossing into eastern Ukraine overnight, Leonid Matyukin, a spokesman for Ukraine’s Counter-Terrorist Operations (CTO) told CNN on Friday.

The vehicles didn’t constitute a Russian invasion of Ukraine, but their sighting supports what the Ukrainian government has been saying has been happening for months.

Technically it would be an invasion, but Kyiv’s point is that the invasion began months ago. They have claimed all along that the rebellion in eastern Ukraine is as authentic as the uprising in Crimea was, which was a wholly-owned operation by the Russian Federation. Some of the fighters come from Ukraine itself; there is little doubt that the Kyiv government is unpopular in the eastern provinces, but not to the point of rebellion for most Ukrainians, which is why the rebellion has failed. Most suspect that the leadership and much of the rank and file of the rebellion come from Russia, though, and the big surface-to-air missile system that shot down Malaysia Air 17 last month was definitely a Russian import.

The West and Kyiv worried that Russia would use the convoy as cover for a military incursion; this just looks like another way to use it as cover, by misdirection rather than camouflage. The convoy has another potential use as a way for Vladimir Putin to claim the necessity of protection if it enters a war zone. That’s why Ukraine wanted the convoy to come through an established government checkpoint, or at least to enter under Red Cross control. So far neither of those conditions have been granted, and it’s likely we won’t have heard the last of this convoy after they drop their cargo in Luhansk and Donetsk.


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Bmore on August 15, 2014 at 8:05 AM

Those inspecting the trucks meanwhile say that they’re mostly empty.

Putin is no brilliant strategist, but FFS we’re literally falling for “Hey, look over there!”

Gingotts on August 15, 2014 at 8:06 AM

Sorry. I pulled a Noah. Its early, more coffee. Stayed up to watch a movie. Chekist.

Bmore on August 15, 2014 at 8:07 AM

Trojan Horse.

listens2glenn on August 15, 2014 at 8:07 AM

Well I’ll be dang. Interrupting Barry’s “vacation from hell” again!

Brat on August 15, 2014 at 8:10 AM

So far neither of those conditions have been granted, and it’s likely we won’t have heard the last of this convoy after they drop their cargo in Luhansk and Donetsk.

Or of those RPG shaped boxes marked “baby food.” There is no way that 200 trucks were thoroughly inspected before entering Ukraine. That would be virtually impossible under the best of circumstances and these are not optimal conditions.

Trojan horse in the guise of a relief convoy.

Happy Nomad on August 15, 2014 at 8:13 AM

There’s other news going on? Ill be darn
/

cmsinaz on August 15, 2014 at 8:13 AM

Well I’ll be dang. Interrupting Barry’s “vacation from hell” again!

Brat on August 15, 2014 at 8:10 AM

You talking about the mysterious trip back to DC on Sunday? Somebody had to go back and get Obama’s lucky putter.

Happy Nomad on August 15, 2014 at 8:14 AM

Guess I could have linked that. In case anyone else would like to watch it. Chekist

Might not be every ones cup of tea. I found it to be interesting.

Bmore on August 15, 2014 at 8:15 AM

There’s other news going on? Ill be darn
/

cmsinaz on August 15, 2014 at 8:13 AM

Yeah but the Russian Army appears to militarized for the HA crowd. Soon we’ll be seeing posts about their heavy handed approach in dealing with Ukraine.

Happy Nomad on August 15, 2014 at 8:17 AM

It would be nice if Russia would put their invasion on hold until Dog Eater finishes his vacation.

Bishop on August 15, 2014 at 8:20 AM

Trojan horses…

albill on August 15, 2014 at 8:22 AM

Happy Nomad on August 15, 2014 at 8:14 AM

No, that trip back to DC was planned. He’s going to pick up Sasha.

I meant that another potential crisis is interrupting his golf. He’ll have to read another strongly-worded-advisor-written statement with his concern face on in front of those blue drapes between golf rounds.

Brat on August 15, 2014 at 8:23 AM

Don’t worry – Putin’s useful idiots will be along shortly to say that the Russian APC incursion was in response to Ukranians being on Russian soil to inspect the humanitarian convoy.

Steve Eggleston on August 15, 2014 at 8:23 AM

Beware Russians bringing gifts (because the bastards will stay for several hundred years and eat all your caviar and also systematically starve you.)

TarasBulbous on August 15, 2014 at 8:31 AM

HN
Heh

cmsinaz on August 15, 2014 at 8:31 AM

Good plan. Send in supplies in advance of the troops.

rhombus on August 15, 2014 at 8:41 AM

Are the Russians lost??

Don’t they know yu don’t have to enter Ukraine to get to Mt. Sinjar or Erbil? They have to go south thru Azerbaijan.

KenInIL on August 15, 2014 at 9:05 AM

Technically it would be an invasion, but Kyiv’s point is that the invasion began months ago.

NATO bombing Serbia to help Muslim separatists in Kosovo= good.

But Russia helping pro-Russian separatists in east Ukraine- bad.

They have claimed all along that the rebellion in eastern Ukraine is as authentic as the uprising in Crimea was, which was a wholly-owned operation by the Russian Federation. Some of the fighters come from Ukraine itself;

If by “some” you mean the vast majority, then yes. Reporting by the NY Times and elsewhere puts it at two thirds. The Red Cross officially categorizes the conflict as a civil war.

there is little doubt that the Kyiv government is unpopular in the eastern provinces, but not to the point of rebellion for most Ukrainians, which is why the rebellion has failed.

You have this completely backwards. The rebels are massively outgunned and outnumbered by nearly 10-1. If they didn’t have the support of the local population, they would have been defeated easily months ago.

And it’s a little premature to say the rebellion has “failed.” The Ukrainian army is still losing about 25 troops a week (per capita that is over six times the casualty rate of the USA in Iraq).

They hasn’t even taken all the major cities yet, and assuming they they eventually do so, that won’t necessarily end the rebellion, it could just morph into a guerilla war, in which Kiev’s forces end up taking more casualties than they did during the conventional fighting phase.

Jon0815 on August 15, 2014 at 9:55 AM

And on cue, the rookie Kremlin agent shows up.

Steve Eggleston on August 15, 2014 at 10:01 AM

NATO bombing Serbia to help Muslim separatists in Kosovo= good.
But Russia helping pro-Russian separatists in east Ukraine- bad.

Jon0815 on August 15, 2014 at 9:55 AM

Well, most conservatives I know were against the NATO operation against Serbia, too. (Though many were fooled by the bogus press accounts re: Bosnia.)

Reporting by the NY Times

Ooooh, major loss of credibility with that one.

If they didn’t have the support of the local population, they would have been defeated easily months ago.

Or, if they didn’t have the support of Russian military forces, they might have been defeated easily months ago.

GWB on August 15, 2014 at 10:27 AM

Totally OT, I know, but

No, that trip back to DC was planned. He’s going to pick up Sasha.

Brat on August 15, 2014 at 8:23 AM

The girl is thirteen, for heaven’s sake, not 5.

Her Secret Service detail is not capable of chaperoning her on a 2 hour flight? Or Grandma, or her tutor? or whoever watches the kid when Mom and Dad are partying with rap stars?

Something weird here.

Dolce Far Niente on August 15, 2014 at 10:48 AM

Don’t worry – Putin’s useful idiots will be along shortly to say that the Russian APC incursion was in response to Ukranians being on Russian soil to inspect the humanitarian convoy.

Steve Eggleston on August 15, 2014 at 8:23 AM

Perhaps you should study the3 history of thye3 area before making yourself look like an idiot Steve.

When did Ukraine become part of Russia? 1686, it remained part of Russia until 1991. Sevastopol became the home of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in what year? Oh yea, that would be 1783. Anyone who thinks that the Russians are going to just give up the Black Sea Fleet are so stupid that they shouldn’t be allowed to comment or opine in public about anything.

One need not be a Russian apologist or useful idiot to recognize that America has absolutely no business meddling in what is clearly and indisputably a Russian National Security issue.

I know people from Ukraine, what these people tell me is, that nearly half of all Ukrainians consider themselves Russian and want Ukraine to return to being a Russian Provence. It isn’t just a few separatist it’s better than 40 percent of the Ukrainian population.

That’s why despite all the BS spouted here, when Crimea voted to return to Russia what you did not see, were any video’s or photographs of Russian troops guarding the polling stations, and why the video’s that did come out showed Ukrainian people celebrating their vote to return to Russia.

This is nothing less that hyper-partisan political talking points, in short, complete bullshit. Hey, I have a brilliant idea… Let’s start a war with someone who neither can nor will back down on an issue of their National Security. What could possibly go wrong? Seriously? How fluking stupid can you be.

oscarwilde on August 15, 2014 at 10:55 AM

Don’t worry.

They’re all Beecher’s Bibles

formwiz on August 15, 2014 at 11:03 AM

what is clearly and indisputably a Russian National Security issue.

oscarwilde on August 15, 2014 at 10:55 AM

Ummm, it is also “clearly and indisputably” an Ukrainian National Security Issue. As a matter of fact, even more so than it being a Russian one.

and why the video’s that did come out showed Ukrainian people celebrating their vote to return to Russia.

There’s also this thing called “propaganda”. The videos that came out of Crimea were under the control of Russians. Belief that it was otherwise is to fail to grasp Putin’s ruthlessness and his command of the tool of propaganda.

I’m not saying that the Ukrainians are all wholesome little angels being put upon by Putin-as-Satan-incarnate. But Russia is definitely not a righteous actor in this. Re-assembly of the Tsarist Russia of old (or the Soviet Union) is not something that is healthy for the rest of the world. And invading a foreign nation in support of rebels in that nation is something that 1) the bad guys of more recent Russian history have done frequently and 2) something the west tends to frown upon.

GWB on August 15, 2014 at 11:05 AM

Ooooh, major loss of credibility with that one.

You think the NY Times is pro-Russia? That may have been true 25 years ago when they were Communist, but it certainly isn’t true now.

The Times and the rest of the MSM hate Putin because a) he’s opposing Obama, and b) the gays.

The weird thing is how many conservatives, who usually would automatically distrust everything the MSM says, are buying without question the MSM line on the Ukraine conflict, which of course is completely pro-Kiev.

Or, if they didn’t have the support of Russian military forces, they might have been defeated easily months ago.

The Russian support has been very minimal: The rebels are still hugely outgunned. And while it’s probably true that the rebels would have been defeated without it, it’s silly to suggest that the rebellion is somehow illegitimate on that basis. Most successful armed rebellions- including the American revolution- would have failed without some outside assistance.

Jon0815 on August 15, 2014 at 11:13 AM

I’m not saying that the Ukrainians are all wholesome little angels being put upon by Putin-as-Satan-incarnate. But Russia is definitely not a righteous actor in this. Re-assembly of the Tsarist Russia of old (or the Soviet Union) is not something that is healthy for the rest of the world. And invading a foreign nation in support of rebels in that nation is something that 1) the bad guys of more recent Russian history have done frequently and 2) something the west tends to frown upon.

GWB on August 15, 2014 at 11:05 AM

Like I said, it isn’t a couple of Ukrainian who want to return to being part of Russia, it’s better than 40 percent. Secondly, and in fact far more importantly, as I also said above, and you completely ignore, Sevastopol has been the home of the Russian Black Sea Fleet since 1783, Russia is not giving it up for any reason what so ever, and you can safely bet your life they are willing to fight a nuclear war to keep it. Try and allow that fact to sink in.

oscarwilde on August 15, 2014 at 11:18 AM

And invading a foreign nation in support of rebels in that nation is something that 1) the bad guys of more recent Russian history have done frequently and 2) something the west tends to frown upon.

GWB on August 15, 2014 at 11:05 AM

Tends to frown upon, except when they are actually doing it themselves, as when NATO attacked Serbia in support of the Muslim rebels of Kosovo.

I suppose you can argue that bombing a country for weeks until they agree to allow your forces to occupy part of your territory, isn’t technically an invasion, but NATO ground troops were preparing to invade if Serbia hadn’t given in.

Jon0815 on August 15, 2014 at 11:20 AM

and you can safely bet your life they are willing to fight a nuclear war to keep it. Try and allow that fact to sink in.

oscarwilde on August 15, 2014 at 11:18 AM

And if we should make it the second target?

OldEnglish on August 15, 2014 at 11:25 AM

Those inspecting the trucks meanwhile say that they’re mostly empty.

Putin is no brilliant strategist, but FFS we’re literally falling for “Hey, look over there!”

Gingotts on August 15, 2014 at 8:06 AM

I want to know how they got 250 army trucks painted that strange beige color so quickly. Is Maaco in Russia?

slickwillie2001 on August 15, 2014 at 11:31 AM

You think the NY Times is pro-Russia?

Jon0815 on August 15, 2014 at 11:13 AM

No, I happen to think they’re generally unreliable as a news organization anymore. Period.

And while it’s probably true that the rebels would have been defeated without it, it’s silly to suggest that the rebellion is somehow illegitimate on that basis.

But suggesting they were as successful as they have been because of local support, without mentioning the direct Russian support, is disingenuous. It implies that (as Russian-supported insurgencies have always claimed) the rebellion is legitimate because it’s all grassroots. And that’s baloney.

Try and allow that fact to sink in.

oscarwilde on August 15, 2014 at 11:18 AM

Try to not get pissy with me, today, Oscar. I know Russian history fairly well for a layman. I don’t care when it became a part of Russia – the old Soviet Union (wisely or foolishly) divested itself of those territories around 1991. Your exact argument applies in reverse – those places now belong to a sovereign nation. And, I was clearly arguing from a standpoint of principles, not merely what Russia is willing to do.

Again, I’m not saying the Ukraine is standing atop the moral high ground in a suit of shiny plate mail. But, some of the things that are being put forward in defense of Russian actions are just as blind, it seems, as much of the pro-Kiev propaganda. Russia The Kremlin is NOT our friend – not even before 0bama came along – nor are they the friends of freedom-loving people anywhere.

GWB on August 15, 2014 at 11:34 AM

I suppose you can argue that bombing a country for weeks until they agree to allow your forces to occupy part of your territory, isn’t technically an invasion, but NATO ground troops were preparing to invade if Serbia hadn’t given in.

Jon0815 on August 15, 2014 at 11:20 AM

Heh. Very true. (I backed neither the Serbian nor the Bosnian intervention, btw. Neither of them did we or NATO have any business getting mixed up in. When deployed to Basnia the point was made “there are no bad guys in this conflict”; I rejected that and countered with “there are no good guys in this conflict.”)

GWB on August 15, 2014 at 11:37 AM